The dangers of playing out in the street or in the park down the road, more and more people living in town houses or flats, more access to television, DVD’s and computers, longer working hours for parents and less play time for children all boil down to one alarming fact: OUR CHILDREN ARE NO LONGER PHYSICAL ENOUGH!
While children are on the go and playing physically they develop the necessary skills they need for further learning. Children develop in so many areas when they are active and it is our responsibility as a parents or caregivers to provide these opportunities for development. We simply cannot be passive! Here are some examples of what happens when your children play physically:
- Establishing dominance and laterality: the preference most humans show for one side of their body over the other. Examples include right-handedness or left-footedness;
- developing spatial awareness: far, near, under, over, inside, outside, between, behind;
- developing balancing skills;
- creating body awareness;
- exercising timing, motor planning and co-ordination;
- releasing the body of excess energy, tension and frustration.
Not being active enough can lead to various problems:
- emotional problems, e.g. anger or depression;
- poor fine motor skills, e.g. having difficulty cutting, writing, threading and doing jigsaw puzzles;
- poor spatial skills which might include the reversal of letters and numbers when reading or writing;
- poor performance in sequencing activities such as reading and spelling, and
- problems with mathematics
Given the ages of the children attending Toddlers Workshop, few have the ability to actually play ball games like soccer, cricket, rugby, hockey etc. However, we want to make a difference to our children’s development by creating more opportunities to be physically active. Therefore, we will have a brand new theme for the second term: Let’s move! We will play with bean bags, bigger balls, smaller balls, balloons, a parachute and hula hoops. Even our creative activities will be physical! So, come prepared! Dress comfortably and make sure you have lots of energy! Together, we can make a difference.
Stop before you switch on the television! Here are some fun, physical activities that you can do with your child instead:
- Get out your empty cardboard boxes and create an exciting maze. Use coffee tables, sheets, etc.
- Collect all your empty Styrofoam containers, spread them all over, switch on some lovely rhythmical music and start stamping the Styrofoam. Clean up by tearing the last bits and throwing them into the dust bin.
- Play a game of hide and seek. Toddlers usually use the same hiding place. Do not let that put you off. Be enthusiastic! They love the anticipation.
- Involve Dad and play a nice game of wrestling on the carpet.
- Close the doors leading to the passage and play Catch and Throw in your own passage.
- Play according to your child’s ability and forget about rules. Have fun.
You will surely have a thrilled and tired toddler to put to bed. As a bonus you might just have a little more energy for your own bedtime gymnastics! Let’s get rolling. Life is too short to waste one moment.
Please help me collect the following and bring them along on your visits to Toddlers Workshop: empty cardboard boxes e.g. cereal, tea, pills, etc., excess Styrofoam containers, the inners of your paper towels rolls, and your egg box containers. I will appreciate that and promise that we will have lots of fun.